HomeNewsSAN, IPC Hail Verdict on Dele Giwa’s Murder Probe

SAN, IPC Hail Verdict on Dele Giwa’s Murder Probe

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday ordered the Federal Government to investigate and prosecute the killers of journalists in Nigeria from 1986 to 2023.

Among those killed within this period are the founder of Newswatch Magazine, Dele Giwa; Bagauda Kaltho, Alex Ogbu, Ikechukwu Onubogu, Maxwell Nashan, Onifade Pelumi, and Precious Owolabi.

The Incorporated Trustees of Media Rights Agenda had sued the Attorney-General of the Federation seeking several reliefs including a declaration that the killing of Nigerian journalists is a violation of their fundamental rights to life.

The organisation also sought the enforcement of the fundamental rights of media practitioners to safety as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution and African Charter on Human Rights.

MRA also held that some journalists are still being harassed by security agencies while going about their duties the AGF allegedly doing nothing about it.

Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that an extrajudicial act could not take place without the FG investigating and prosecuting them.

He held that the AGF being the chief law officer of the federation was under obligation to prosecute and penalise killers of media practitioners in the country.

Ekwo said, “An order is hereby made directing the Federal Government of Nigeria to investigate, prosecute, and punish perpetrators of all attacks against journalists and other media practitioners, and ensure that all victims of attacks against journalists have access to effective remedies. “

He also ordered the FG to ensure adequate protection and safety of the lives of journalists as enshrined in sections 33, and 39 of the Constitution and Articles 4 and 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

“An order is hereby made directing the Federal Government of Nigeria to take measures to raise awareness and build the capacities of various stakeholders, particularly journalists and other media practitioners, policymakers, law enforcement, security, intelligence, military as well as other officials and relevant stakeholders on the laws and standards for ensuring the safety of journalists and media practitioners, “Ekwo added.

He, however, ordered the FG to put in place measures that would prevent journalists from attacks.

Reacting to the development, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Norrison Quakers, SAN commended the judgment of the Federal High Court.

Quakers said although the judgment was a welcome development to the justice system of the country, there was a need to show concerns about how the investigation would be carried out, urging the Federal Government to obey the order by enforcing the probe into the deaths of the late Giwa.

He said, “It is a good one as the court is ordering the government, and in law, there is no time-bound to criminal prosecution and even investigation unlike a civil case because this has to do with deaths and the lives of some journalists who have been cut short.

“Recall that even the Attorney-General of the federation under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Chief Bola Ige, was also murdered while he was still serving and from that time till now arrests have not really been made and investigations have not been carried out to the point where people are arrested or prosecuted. Funsho Williams was also murdered in Lagos State among others. There are many such crimes.

 “It is a welcome development. The question is how far can the Federal Government go to carry out the investigation? Are the people involved at that time still around to be asked questions? Can the military men who were also accused of being complicit in that be arrested? Is the will actually there to enforce this judgment, the directive of the court against the government to carry out investigations?”

On his part, the Executive Director of the International Press Centre, Lanre Arogundade, also hailed the judgment, saying the judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, who delivered the judgment, should be saluted for not allowing such a matter to fade.

He added that it was important and good that the order extended to other journalists, who lost their lives “mostly in very controversial circumstances”.

According to him, if the Federal Government abides by the court order and takes immediate steps towards it, it would be a positive signal that the administration believes in the rule of law, press freedom, and the Freedom of expression as it will discourage potential criminals from getting involved in such crimes in the future.

Arogundade said, “It has always been a worrisome development for us that journalists could just be killed or disappear particularly even after we have left the military era, and the trend has been persistent. In terms of what it means, I suppose that this order can send a signal to whoever is planning to attack journalists that they may not go scot-free which means that it is good and hopefully serve as a kind of warning or disincentive for anyone for whatever reason to assault or attack journalists.

“For me, it is a very welcoming development. If the Federal Government takes immediate steps to abide by the court order, it will send the signal that they believe in the rule of law and Press Freedom, Freedom of Expression. I will not want to speculate but to assume that the government through its appropriate agencies will have no reason not to obey and carry out the instructions of the court.”

Punch

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